28/11/2012 11:12 GMT

Stephen Packer, Liverpool Football Club Academy U-9 Star Dies Of Cancer

A talented young star of Liverpool Football Club's Academy U-9 team died after losing his battle with a rare form of cancer on Sunday evening.

A statement on the club's website said Stephen Packer "made a big impression on everyone he encountered at the Academy due to his happy nature and willingness to learn".

Liverpool players took to Twitter to express their condolences.

His family have decided to have a minute of applause rather than silence before Liverpool's match against Southampton this weekend.

Academy director Frank McParland said: "Everybody at the club has been deeply shocked and saddened by Stevie's passing.

"He was very highly thought of by everyone he came into contact with. He was a really happy kid and always had a smile on his face.

"Not only that, but Stevie was a really talented young footballer. He was the best athlete within his group and very speedy.

"Stevie is going to be really missed by everyone here and we'd all like to offer his family and friends our condolences."